Jun 9, 2022 - Google Strike Threat Leads to Big Win and other news

June 9, 2022

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Organizing Update

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Cognizant (Google)

Last week, Google Maps contract workers with Cognizant informed management that they planned to go on strike due to the unsafe working conditions imposed by the company's requirement that they return to the office on short notice. Shortly after, workers received an email that the company had been granted a 90-day extension on the return to office date. Many of the workers are members of Alphabet Workers Union-CWA (AWU-CWA), which agreed to provide organizing, strategic, and financial support for the planned strike.

“We are ecstatic; this is what collective organizing does—for weeks we have individually been raising concerns about the threat of COVID as 200 of us were being forced to return to the office, along with the logistical challenges presented to those of us struggling to find childcare or those working across state lines. Our individual concerns were ignored until we met with our coworkers and collectively took action to raise our shared demands and leverage our power. We love the work we do for Google Maps and will continue to organize until we can secure the flexible, safe, and fair working conditions we deserve,” said Shelby Hunter, a policy trainer at Cognizant and member of AWU-CWA.

This win underscores the growing organizing momentum within tech and the strength of wall-to-wall union models that allow all workers to join together, regardless of employment classification, to secure concrete wins for workers. Compared to Google’s full-time employees, temp, vendor, and contractor workers receive worse pay, inferior benefits, poor management, arbitrary policies, and inflexible return to office expectations. Workers are taking a stand against the growing abuse and mistreatment that enforces Google’s two-tiered workplace. Just this week, nearly a dozen Google contract workers with Artech won back thousands of dollars in back pay after discovering a discrepancy in their pay stubs, further highlighting pay transparency and wage theft issues facing Google’s temporary, vendor, and contract workers.

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Raven Software/Activision Blizzard

Last Friday, CWA filed an unfair labor practice charge against Activision for discriminating and retaliating against workers at its Raven Software studio. This is the third charge CWA has filed against Activision. It stems from the company's layoff of 12 Quality Assurance testers in December 2021, its reorganization of its operations to eliminate the Quality Assurance department three days after workers requested union recognition in January 2022, and its withholding of pay raises and other benefits in April 2022.

"The reorganization and withholding of pay raises and other benefits and the company's failure to rehire laid off QA testers were clearly attempts by Activision to intimidate us and interfere with our union election in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. We are holding Activision accountable by filing these charges," said Game Workers Alliance/CWA organizing committee members Erin Hall, Lau Nebel-Malone, and Marie Carroll.

The Raven workers won recognition for their union, Game Workers Alliance/CWA, on May 23, with an 86% majority vote.

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Maximus

Check out this new video from federal call center workers at Maximus, who went on a two-day strike last month demanding affordable healthcare and an end to poverty wages. The video features messages of solidarity from Senators Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who are among the many elected officials and community leaders supporting the workers’ campaign to organize a union with CWA, get better pay, and improve working conditions.

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Wells Fargo

In a recent article in the Guardian, workers at Wells Fargo, the third largest bank in the U.S., shared stories about their ongoing campaign to organize a union across the financial institution. The article features interviews with workers from Wells Fargo United, a campaign with the Committee for Better Banks-CWA, who discuss the various challenges workers face and the constant struggle to have a voice on the job in the face of the company’s blatant anti-union stance. “If it’s left to the senior leadership, the changes won’t occur. So we have to collectively bargain and take control ourselves,” said Jessie McCool, a senior compliance officer at Wells Fargo.

Workers also discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated ongoing safety concerns and stressed the need to have a union to prevent the abuse of workers and consumers. In 2016, whistleblowers with the Committee for Better Banks-CWA exposed Wells Fargo’s fake account scandal. Wells Fargo has faced a series of other scandals in recent years including mortgage and auto loan abuses, adding on products to customer accounts without their knowledge, a lawsuit alleging mass overtime pay violations, and more. Ted Laurel, an account resolution specialist at Wells Fargo, said, “We want the customer base to know that we’re forming a union really for them. We’re tired of having our name dragged through the mud at Wells Fargo because of things that we’ve asked to have more control over, but the company refuses to give us that control.”

Last year, CWA Local 9412 members at Beneficial State Bank successfully won the first union contract in the banking industry in 40 years. The workers at Wells Fargo hope to build on that win and organize to form a union and negotiate a contract that protects their interests as well as the interests of their consumers.


Worker Power Update

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CWAers in New York Secure Legislative Victory

In a hard fought victory for CWA members in New York, the State Assembly unanimously passed legislation that will protect good union jobs by preventing companies from shifting work to non-union third party contractors.​ The bill requires the Public Service Commission to respect current collective bargaining agreements relating to pole attachment work between telecommunications, utility, and cable companies and their employees. CWAers throughout New York held meetings with and sent thousands of emails to their representatives in the New York State Senate and Assembly to advocate for this bill.

The “One Touch, Make Ready” (OTMR) rule allows companies to attach new equipment to utility poles or move existing equipment in a rushed timeframe and without sufficient oversight from utility pole owners. If done improperly, pole attachments can cause facility damage, service interruption, and hazardous circumstances for workers and the public.

"One Touch, Make Ready sets a dangerous precedent both in terms of breaking the collective bargaining relationship between workers and employers, and lowering safety standards for telecommunications work, putting our communities at risk,” said CWA District One Vice President Dennis Trainor. “S.8919/A.10216 puts a stop to this harmful, anti-union regulation and ensures the continued safety and quality of the work, at a time when it's more important than ever to bring broadband to all New Yorkers.”

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Building Broadband Better in Nevada

Last week, CWA Broadband Brigade member and Local 9413 President Marc Ellis (second from left) joined other labor leaders to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris in Reno, Nev. During the meeting, Ellis discussed CWA’s campaign in Nevada to build broadband better by ensuring taxpayer funds support good, union jobs and equitable broadband expansion. The Vice President expressed her support and the Administration’s commitment to ensure that the millions of dollars Nevada will receive in federal broadband funding go to good jobs and high-speed internet access for all communities in the state.

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CWA-Endorsed U.S. Senate Candidate Tim Ryan Affirms His Commitment to Fight for Good Jobs and Broadband for All

In a new video, Tim Ryan, Democratic Congressman from Ohio and candidate for U.S. Senate, stated his commitment to fight for all communities in Ohio to have access to high speed, high quality broadband connections and ensure that public funds being used to expand broadband access go towards creating more good union jobs.

“Building a modern Ohio – a modern America – means that we need to see broadband really as a utility, just as important as water lines and sewer lines…That's why we fought so hard to include broadband in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. We have got a lot more work to do to make this thing [broadband] a utility and accessible in every single community in Ohio. We're going to keep fighting for this because every community deserves to be plugged in if they want the jobs of the future. I am going to fight like hell in the United States Senate to make sure every corner of Ohio has access to good, high speed internet, broadband, and all the rest,” said Ryan.

The video also features CWA Local 4108 Executive Vice President and Broadband Brigade member Martin Szeliga, who highlighted CWA’s Build Broadband Better campaign and stressed the need for members to get involved.


Bargaining Update

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Frontier Communications

CWA members at Frontier Communications in California are ramping up their mobilization efforts to build their strength at the bargaining table as they continue to negotiate a fair contract with the company. On Sunday, members and supporters gathered in Los Angeles, for a rally hosted by CWA Local 9003 to make their demands heard loud and clear.

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Evoque Data Center Solutions

Evoque Data Center technicians, members of CWA Local 1150, continue to mobilize for a fair contract. On Tuesday, they held an informational picket demanding a fair contract with fellow members of CWA Local 1150 outside the company’s data center in Secaucus, N.J.

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Thomson Reuters

Members of the Canadian Media Guild (TNG-CWA Local 30213) at Thomson Reuters voted unanimously to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement. The bargaining committee, working closely with other members, achieved strong gains in the new agreement including salary increases over the four years of the contract, important improvements for temporary employees such as sick leave, and provisions for conversion to permanent status. The workers also successfully pushed back against efforts to introduce a co-pay model for benefits and a threat to their pensions.


Join Us for the 2022 Poor People’s Campaign Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington

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On June 18th, thousands of CWA members from across the country, other union members, activists, elected officials, faith leaders, community allies, and social justice advocates will gather in Washington, D.C., for the Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington.

Participants in the assembly and march will be calling on elected leaders to do more to address social and economic equality in all its forms and enact real policies to fully address poverty and low wealth from the bottom up. They will declare their commitment to shifting the moral narrative, building power, and demanding systemic change.

If you are interested in attending and want to know how to connect with other CWA members at the event or need information on transportation click here.


2022 Union Plus Scholarships Awarded

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Union Plus has awarded $200,000 in scholarships to 189 students representing 38 unions, including 13 winners from CWA. This year's group of scholarship recipients includes university, college, and trade or technical school students from 35 states plus the District of Columbia. Congratulations to the CWA winners!

  • Jessica Bournè of Metuchen, N.J. Bournè, who is a member of CWA Local 1037, has been awarded a $4,000 scholarship.
  • Jenna Crowley of Eden, N.Y. Crowley, whose mother, Judith Crowley, is a member of CWA Local 1168, has been awarded a $500 scholarship.
  • Aidan Geisenheimer of Marlton, N.J. Geisenheimer, whose mother, Jennifer Curley, is a member of CWA Local 1040, has been awarded a $500 scholarship.
  • Grayson Haskins of Danville, Va. Haskins, whose father, Brad Haskins, is a member of CWA Local 2204, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Taylor Jeffrey of Brooklyn, N.Y. Jeffrey, whose mother, Lycia Jeffrey, is a member of CWA Local 1101, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Hannah Kostka of Oxford, Conn. Kostka, whose mother, Lynanne Kostka, is a member of CWA Local 1298, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Rebecca Millevoi of West Hempstead, N.Y. Millevoi, whose father, Walter Millevoi, is a member of CWA Local 1106, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Eria Minor of Birmingham, Ala. Minor, whose father, Errol Minor, is a member of CWA Local 3902, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Krish Shah of Chesterfield, N.J. Shah, whose father, Nimit Shah, is a member of CWA Local 1038, and mother, Sneha Shah, is a member of CWA Local 1032, has been awarded a $550 scholarship.
  • Camille Snell of Richmond, Calif. Snell, who is a member of CWA Local 9119, has been awarded a $1,500 scholarship.
  • Thomas Vellenga of Ewing, N.J. Vellenga, whose father, Charles Vellenga, is a member of CWA Local 1033, has been awarded a $550 scholarship.
  • Landon Wood of Charleston, W.Va. Wood, whose mother, Jennifer Wood, is a member of CWA Local 2001, has been awarded a $550 scholarship.
  • Ally Yeary of Abingdon, Va. Yeary, whose father, Terry Yeary, is a member of CWA Local 2204, has been awarded a $550 scholarship.